That said, there’s at least one person who’s got his eyes focused on continuing the At the Movies legacy – Roger Ebert.
Ebert updated his blog at The Sun-Times today with a few comments in regards to At the Movies‘ cancellation, as well as early details about his next program, which is still in the early stages of development, asserting, “We believe a market still exists for a weekly show where a couple of critics review new movies.”
The legendary critic also debuted the show’s most recent working title: Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies. The throwback should reassure fans that, while the show isn’t a carbon copy of Ebert’s previous endeavor, the new program will still encompass the genuine spirt of the show Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert started nearly thirty years ago.
In fact, Ebert views the end of At the Movies as an opportunity to reach moviegoers who might have been less interested in the old format.
“We also know we will have a strong web presence. We will go full-tilt New Media: Television, net streaming, cell phone apps, Facebook, Twitter, iPad, the whole enchilada. The disintegration of the old model creates an opening for us. I’m more excited than I would be if we were trying to do the same old same old – My web site and blog at the Sun-Times site have changed the way I work, and even the way I think. When I lost my speech, I speeded up instead of slowing down.”
The show will also seek to capture the growing diversity in the current film industry. The internet has certainly changed the way moviegoers discover films: whether anxiously anticipating the new trailer for an upcoming movie or rediscovering classic films through Netflix and DVRs, we aren’t as tied to the Friday release schedule as we were in the 1980s.
“We’ll also go New Cinema. Not just the One Weekend Wonders, although you gotta have ’em, but indie films, foreign films, documentaries, restored classics, the new Herzog, the new Bahrani, the new Almodovar. What’s new on Instant Streaming. What great movies should everyone see? Hey, Paramount just announced $1 million for ten $100,000 movies. Those kinds of films. What kind of a real movie lover cares who has the “exclusive” first trailer in the newest extrusion of the “Transformer” franchise? It’s time to smarten up.”
Ebert admits that it’s unlikely he’ll make regular appearances in the debate portion of the show – though, he certainly has some ideas of how he might be able to contribute to the program.
“I can also say that we held video tests with several potential hosts two weeks ago in Los Angeles, and know who we will use. Yes, I’d like to make occasional appearances on the air. I’m not foolish enough to believe any form of back-and-forth debate is possible, but I could do Great Movies segments, or a wrap-up from Cannes or Toronto. With all the publicity about me “getting my voice back,” some people have the idea that a computer program has magically allowed me to speak again. That will never happen. I type, and the words come out. No one can type fast enough for conversational repartee. With the new software from Edinburgh the words will come out sounding like me. That’s huge. It will work well on the new show in voice-over narration of TV packages.”
In addition to confirming that he and Chaz (his wife) will be producing the show, the esteemed film critic had one more important point to clarify – “I can also say the Thumbs will return.”
It’s great to see Ebert leading the charge in the digital-age of film commentary. Certainly, At the Movies was highly-regarded – but in recent years it had been eclipsed by other, more accessible, sources for movie reviews. Roger Ebert presents At the Movies sounds like it might have the magic mix of intelligent discussion as well technological savvy in order to appeal to a larger audience than ever before.
Think you’ll catch Roger Ebert presents At the Movies?